ATLANTA -- A day later, Nick Saban was still reliving his best day ever.

In the fog of war, sweat, celebration and a sixth national championship, Alabama's coach raised eyebrows with a remark that should have resonated with every nuclear family out there.

"I've never been happier in my life," the great coach said after an improbable overtime victory against Georgia.

If that's the case -- never mind births, children, graduations and marriage -- where does Saban go from here?

Well, he's certainly not backing down from the self-fulfillment of that thrilling 26-23 victory.

"I guess, why not?" Saban said in his day-after press conference following another national championship. "What do we work for all year? Why do we put in all this time?"

To feed the monster that demands more. A sixth national championship -- five at Alabama -- kept Tide fans sated for another year.

But clearly the end is in sight for the game's best coach -- perhaps of all time. Saban, 66, would be foolish to admit it publicly or even to himself. But whenever that seventh title comes -- which seems almost certain -- that's a nice place for a career walk-off.

He would have surpassed Bear Bryant. He would have put the all-time record perhaps out of reach.

"As long as I feel like I can do a good job for the players and the team … I've said this along for many, many years now when I get asked this question," Saban said.

"I've been part of a team since I was 9 years old. It's hard for me to imagine what it would be like not being part of a team."

That's why the end remains open ended. But the question has to be asked. This is the time in a career when those "when you going to retire" questions rise up. Saban's nearest competition -- if there even is one for national championships -- is Urban Meyer. Ohio State's coach has a mere three titles.

"He's given no indication that he is even coming close to tapping the brakes," AD Greg Byrne said of Saban.

At age 66, Joe Paterno was six years removed from his second and last national championship, coming off a 7-5 season. At age 66, Bobby Bowden was coming of an 11-1 season, four years before his second and final national championship.

It was a year ago last Saturday that Bryne took the job. In that space, his biggest accomplishment might have been signing Saban to an extension through the 2024 season. That would bring the coach to 72.

"We want him to coach here for a long time," Byrne said.  

As devastating as Monday's loss was, it's clear Kirby Smart and Georgia aren't going anywhere. The 42-year-old former Alabama defensive coordinator has 24 years on Saban.

In his second year as a head coach, Saban went 6-5-1 at Michigan State. In his second season, Smart coached in his sixth national championship game and won the SEC.

"Not really any surprises," Smart said of the moment.

But the way the game played out showed how hard it is to win one national championship. Down 13-0 at halftime, Bama had been shut out in a first half for only the third time since 2007.

Quarterback Jalen Hurts was showing his worst side. Hurts is a talented shifty runner, but it doesn't seem like he can be relied upon as a consistent thrower.

That's hard to say about a sophomore who is 25-2 as a starter. A key first-quarter overthrow sort of summed up what Hurts is. Calvin Ridley was wide open in the corner of the end zone after the Georgia cornerback had fallen down.

Hurts missed him and a moment later kicker Andy Pappanastos missed the first of two makeable field goals.

Saban confirmed that Hurts assessment when he subbed him out at halftime for true freshman Tua Tagovailoa.

Everything changed from there.

Alabama was more dynamic offensively with Tagovailoa. The kid still has miles to go as a consistent thrower, but when he launched the winning touchdown pass to fellow true freshman DeVonta Smith, it was clear the kid had been coached up.

Tagovailoa looked off the safety on the right side, allowing Smith to blow past cornerback Malkolm Parrish on a streak.

"I don't think the defense respected his arm," tailback Bo Scarbrough said. "That opened it up on the offensive side and gave us a chance to drive the ball downfield."

That momentous throw kicked off an offseason to watch at Alabama:

The shape of the upcoming quarterback battle between Hurts and Tagovailoa.

"We haven't really made a decision about that," Saban said. "I don't think it's imperative that we make one right now."

Prediction: Hurts and Tagovailoa will do the quarterback battle dance, but look for Tua to win the job. He is more dynamic as both a runner and passer.

For now, that includes the good and the bad. Tagovailoa took a horrible 16-yard sack on the play before the game-winning pass.

When Tagovailoa arrived on campus, there were rumblings that his attitude has outstripped his actual accomplishments. He sure didn't look like Tagovailoa had overvalued himself.

"Tua understood the whole game plan," offensive coordinator Brian Daboll said. "The plays that we've run in practice, we've run a bunch of times."

Hurts was the picture of class seeing his career change before his eyes.

"The goal coming into the game was to win the game," Hurts said amid a knot of reporters. "That's what we did as a team."

Alabama's leading passer, runner and receiver were all true freshmen. That doesn't include true freshman left tackle Alex Leatherwood, who replaced injured All-American Jonah Williams. That bright future alone is reason for Saban to stick around.

So is this: Since Saban arrived at LSU in 2000, every player he recruited – if they stayed – was a part of a national championship. (That includes the players he recruited who were part of Les Miles' 2007 title team).

Daboll -- a former Patriots' assistant -- considered his fortune. In the past 11 months, he has coached on championship teams that won a Super Bowl and a College Football Playoff with Saban, Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and those freshmen.

"Winning," Daboll said, "never gets old."